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2018 NBA Draft Reaction: Utah Jazz select Grayson Allen at No. 21

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Can the Dukie be another hit in the 20s for Dennis Lindsey?

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Grayson Allen became the newest member of the Utah Jazz on Thursday, after the team selected him with the No. 21 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Utah has been trending toward full-blown position-less basketball in recent years, so guys in the 6’7”-6’8” range who can play multiple positions seemed like the natural target this year.

So, how does Allen fit with this team?

Shooting

This is Allen’s biggest and most obvious skill. He shot 38 percent from three on nearly 800 attempts in college. And a lot of those shots were contested or off the dribble. For a team that has fully embraced modern offense, adding more shooting makes sense.

Lineups that include Allen, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles could really make teams scramble on defense.

Just imagine a pick-and-roll with Mitchell and Gobert, flanked by Ingles and Allen in the corners. All that space to the rim could give Mitchell a chance for even more dynamic finishes.

Playmaking

Plenty of guys are expected to be able to handle the ball in this system, and Allen has the potential to do that at the NBA level as well.

His career Assist Percentage of 19.6 is solid, but it’s the 4.6 assists per game he handed out as a senior that’s most impressive. He played on a team with two top-10 big men in Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter, and obviously knew how to set those guys up.

Similar to the situation laid out above, Allen can run some pick-and-roll with Mitchell and Ingles flanking. In fact, whoever gets the advantage matchup (which will generally be Mitchell) can go to work.

The ability to both shoot and create will be huge.

Defense

This is maybe the most important aspect of the game for any incoming Jazz player. Over the years, we’ve seen that an inability to defend both individually and within the system can get you yanked off the floor in a hurry.

There are certainly questions about Allen’s defense, and they’re probably fair. But there are some strengths you can point to.

According to Jonathan Givony, he had one of the fastest lane agility times in combine history:

That, of course, lends itself to an ability to play defense. He may just need to be coached how to do it at this level. And there may be no better staff in the league to do that.

Allen also had a career Steal Percentage (one of the best indicators for future success) over two in college. And he was 39th in the entire NCAA in total steals this season.

The Numbers

There’s always some concern over seniors heading into the NBA. If a player isn’t able to dominate college until he gets a little older than the teenagers he’s facing, it’s a red flag.

With Allen, though, the shade of red isn’t quite as scary.

A good NCAA Box Plus-Minus for an NBA prospect is around or above 10. And Allen had a career-best 9.7 Box Plus-Minus as a sophomore. And he had one of the best stretches of his career during March Madness as a freshman.

This isn’t necessarily a case of a guy struggling till he got the age advantage.

What’s more, Allen’s Box Plus-Minus profile is nearly identical to Jimmy Butler’s. This is obviously an imperfect comparison. Butler’s bigger and plays a different style. But in terms of overall impact on the game, his senior season was about the same as Allen’s.

Conclusion

This pick makes sense. It’s entirely possible that Utah was eyeing the kind of 3-and-D wing/forward Jazz fans expected. It’s just that most of those guys went in the 10-20 range.

Allen isn’t big enough to play the 3, but he still has the potential to play either guard spot, thanks to the shooting, playmaking and athleticism.